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Global Fund strategy aims to help shape market and ensure sustainability of AIDS treatment

26 May 2011

Major global health financier joins partners in expressing concern over potential impact of Free Trade Agreements on access to medicines

Geneva, 26 May 2011 — At its 23rd meeting in Geneva on May 11 and 12, the Global Fund Board endorsed a Market-shaping Strategy - developed in extensive collaboration with implementers and other partners - that aims to optimize price, quality, design and sustainable supplies of health products. The strategy will initially be applied to antiretroviral medicines to treat AIDS. It aims to contribute to improved health outcomes, accelerate access to superior products and achieve significant cost savings. Under the strategy, the Global Fund will also prioritize strategic market interventions to sustain paediatric antiretroviral treatment, working with UNITAID and other partners.

“This strategy and the efforts of our partners are part of an emerging vision that will help to ensure the quality and sustainability of treatment and prevention for AIDS, TB and malaria in the next decade and beyond”, said Professor Kazatchkine.

The new Global Fund strategy complements recent initiatives and statements in support of lowering drug costs and ensuring the long-term sustainability of medicines to address major global health challenges.

The new four-year HIV strategy1 endorsed by the World Health Assembly at its Sixty-Fourth Meeting this week and the recent report on the AIDS response by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon2 both call for the use of measures to contain costs and foster an open, competitive market for health commodities, including the use of TRIPS flexibilities, patent pooling and voluntary licence agreements between patent holders and generic manufacturers. In addition, a recent Policy Brief by UNAIDS, WHO and UNDP on the use of flexibilities contained in the agreement on Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)3 provides clear guidance to governments and other stakeholders seeking to expand access to antiretroviral treatment.

The Global Fund supports these measures and joins its partners in calling for negotiating parties in Free Trade Agreements with developing countries to ensure that no provision in such agreements hampers access to lower-priced quality medicines.

In the case of on-going trade negotiations between the European Union and India, the Global Fund supports proposals to ensure that these agreements allow continued access to medicines, in particular, to treatments for AIDS, TB and malaria.

“Free Trade Agreements with the developing world need to take into account that the world’s major pandemics predominantly affect the poorest people and should recognize the role of India in supplying quality low-cost medicines to the developing world”, said Professor Kazatchkine. Ninety-two per cent of antiretroviral drugs delivered through Global Fund grants in 2010 were produced in India.

Since its creation in 2002, the Global Fund has encouraged recipients of its funding to apply national laws and applicable international obligations in the field of intellectual property, including the flexibilities provided in the TRIPS Agreement and interpreted in the Doha Declaration, in a manner that achieves the lowest possible price for products of assured quality.

The Global Fund fully supports the WHO/UNAIDS Treatment 2.0 agenda including its objectives to foster research, simplify treatment regimens, improve point-of-care diagnosis, reduce cost and further mobilize community-based support. The Fund also supports complementary measures to sustain and increase access to medicines such as the Medicines Patent Pool initiated by UNITAID and encourages other strategies to provide incentives for innovation, adapt pricing for developing countries and improve drug procurement, management and delivery.

1 The Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS, 2011-15. WHO. 2011

2 Uniting for universal access: towards zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Report of the Secretary-General to the 65th Session of the General Assembly. 20 March 2011.

3 Using TRIPS flexibilities to improve access to HIV treatment. Policy brief. UNAIDS, WHO and UNDP. March 2011.